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Cyprus

‘Justice minister tried to protect CyTA suspects’

The plot for the CyTA land scam thickens

By George Psyllides

INTERIOR Minister Socratis Hasikos had threatened to resign if two members of the secret service (KYP) implicated in a suspicious land deal were not arrested, reports said on Thursday, as his colleague, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou allegedly tried to protect them.

The claims were made by Giorgos Georgiou, the lawyer of a businessman charged with bribing the two officers to falsify a report that would have made a land deal possible.

The two officers were allegedly paid by businessman Nicos Lillis to produce a false report saying the Turkish Cypriot seller of the land had resided in the government-controlled areas for six months – a necessary condition — prior to selling the land.

They were included in the leaked transcripts of conversations between the businessman and his lawyers that were published by daily Politis on Thursday.

The transcripts also implicate a ruling DISY MP, Rikkos Mappourides, who used to work for the state legal service.
Georgiou is quoted as saying that the justice minister had asked that the two officers, Costas Miamiliotis and Lefteris Mouskos, should not be arrested in connection with the land deal involving the pension fund of state telecoms company CyTA.

Communications Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos was also mentioned as being interested in what happened to Mouskos
However, according to Georgiou, Hasikos went up to the presidential palace and told President Nicos Anastasiades “if you don’t make arrests by 10am tomorrow I will bring you my resignation and at 12pm I will hold a news conference and say that they are being protected.”

One of the lawyers present at the meeting said Mouskos was “close” to Nicolaou and that he was responsible for handling the presidential election campaign on behalf of the minister in the police and the fire service in Larnaca.

Georgiou, the lawyer, also accused police investigators that they were protecting Vasos Georgiou, director of former president Demetris Christofias’office and secret service chief.

He resigned in July 2010 over nepotism allegations.

The lawyer said Vasos Georgiou had showed interest in the KYP report but claimed that he did not know Mouskos, chief of KYP’s Larnaca branch.

According to the transcripts, the KYP report was accepted by the government after it was okayed by the legal service and Mappourides personally.

At that point of the conversation, Georgiou intervened to tell the others that Mappourides’ name came up in a meeting he had with Hasikos about an unrelated matter.

“Hasikos told me ‘we’ll see what (DISY chief) Averof (Neophytou) and Anastasiades do now because I will ask for Mappourides’ immunity to be lifted because he is involved in everything and he has taken cash from everyone,”

Georgiou was quoted as saying. “All the cases that stink bear Rikkos Mappourides’ signature.”

It is understood that he was referring to cases concerning Turkish Cypriot properties.

The land deal in question involved the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of office space in Dromolaxia, near Larnaca airport, at a price reportedly several times the going market value.

Allegations have since surfaced that millions were paid in kickbacks to make the deal possible.

Former CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis and seven others — former electricity authority EAC chairman Charalambos Tsouris, a member of the CyTA board at the time, opposition AKEL officials Christos Alecou and Venizelos Zanettou, the director of CyTA’s pay-TV arm and SEK union rep Orestis Vasilliou, CyTA employee Yiannis Souroullas and his brother Gregoris who works at the land registry, and businessman Antonis Ioakim, a shareholder in Wadnic, the company involved in the €20.5m deal – will appear before Larnaca Criminal Court on March 7 to be formally charged in connection with the purchase of the property.

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